Friday, March 8, 2024

Moscow Set to Delay Micro-Census from 2026 to 2028 to Save Money for War and Possibly to Hide Embarrassing Ethnic Data

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Mar. 4 – Russian law requires that Moscow carry about a micro-census five years after the decennial census is conducted. Because the delayed census was completed in 2021, this next intercensal enumeration was supposed to take place in 2026. But now Rosstat and the Economic Development Ministry are seeking its delay until 2028.

            They have proposed this delay in a draft law ( This delay almost certainly reflects the budgetary stringencies Moscow faces because of its war in Ukraine, although the measure does not make reference to these.

            Instead, it places the blame on the fact that the two government agencies most directly responsible for the census are overwhelmed with work because they will be conducting an already delayed All-Russian Agricultural Census in 2027 and thus can’t prepare for that and the micro-census at the same time.

            Such delays in conducting enumerations have become commonplace under Vladimir Putin. But they create real problems for officials who in the absence of new data often make decisions without the kind of detailed and recently updated information that they need and relied 8

            In reporting this request for delay, one that almost certainly will be granted, the Nazaccent portal points to two statistics in particular that won’t be updated: the growing number of residents of the Russian Federation who don’t identify as members of a particular nationality, and the increasing number who don’t indicate their native language.

            Between 2010 and 2021, the number of the former increased from 5.7 million to 16.6 million while the number of the latter rose from 4.5 million to 16.6 million, trends that suggest even more residents of the Russian Federation and those who had declared themselves to be ethnic Russians and to speak Russian will not do so in the next enumeration.

            That could present a problem for Vladimir Putin and his promotion of his idiosyncratic Russian world; and it is not unreasonable to think that he has an interest not only in saving money to fight his war but preventing the release of new information that could challenge his claims about what is happening as far as the identity of people in his country is concerned.

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